From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Thu May 01 1997 - 01:56:49 EDT

Carl W. Conrad responded to Mike MacKinnon;

>>>>>>>>>Hello all,
>I am working at trying to understand human anthropology biblically.
>Genesis 2:7 argues that God created humankind as "living NEPHESH." Now my
>question is not about the Hebrew "nephesh," yet it comes from the proper
>understanding of what "nephesh" refers to.
>The KJV renders "nephesh" as "soul," while most other translations render
>it as "being." My understanding of "nephesh" is that it refers to the
>human person as an ontological unity of mind, body, soul and spirit.
>This is where my question re SWMA, SARX, YUCH & PNEUMA comes in. The NT is
>filled with these 4 words in varying contexts. How, might I ask, do these
>relate to the human person? What is generally being said of the human
>person when these terms are referred to? And how might we understand human
>anthropology given these terms? Biblically speaking, what exactly are we?
>I ask many questions here, and perhaps the answer might be too long to
>comment on. Maybe, if this is the case, someone might refer me to some
>resources that tackle this issue in a solid, biblical and yet scholarly

I would just caution against any assumption that the terms mean exactly the
same thing in all NT writers. For Paul's usage of these terms, I think the
best discussion remains Bultmann's chapter on "Pauline Anthropology" in his
_Theology of the NT_.<<<<<<<<

I agree here with Carl's recommendation of Bultmann. Also the articles in
TDNT are helpful but heavily etymological. James Barr tends to trash TDNT
a bit in that regard.

I would also point out that from the Hebrew perspective, the phrase NEPHESH
CHAYYAH is used in Gen.2:7 (cf 1 Peter's use of YUCH ZWN), but also in Gen
1:20-21 where it describes (using the word BARA in 21) the creation of sea
life and the birds of the heavens. The question of anthroplogy in the NT
is tied up with the extent to which NT writers were influenced by Hebrew
thought and Greek thought. A thought provoking book is the old one by
Thorlief Boman, Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek. This book has been
praised or trashed depending whether one sees, especially in Paul, Hebrew
anthropology or Greek anthropology. This would be the difference between
W.D. Davies on the one hand and Bultmann on the other.

Carlton L. Winbery
114 Beall St.
Pineville, LA 71360
Fax (318) 442-4996
Phone 318 487-7241 Home 448-6103

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